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Rams' comeback falls short, Falcons win 31-24

2013-09-15T13:55:00Z 2013-09-28T21:11:34Z Rams' comeback falls short, Falcons win 31-24By Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

The Rams showed some fight, battling from a 21-0 deficit to make a game of it, but their comeback appeared to be falling short as Sunday's game in Atlanta wound down.

Atlanta won 31-24.

After a strong finish to the third quarter, the Rams continued working their way back into the game with another strong drive to open the fourth quarter. On a third-and-goal from the 3, Sam Bradford hooked up with Austin Pettis on a crossing pattern that cut the Atlanta lead to 24-17 with 11:57 left in regulation.

The drive was highlighted by long passes to Pettis (18 yards) and Brian Quick (15 yards) and a 23-yard scramble by Bradford.

The Falcons answered with an 80-yard drive capped by an 11-yard burst up the middle by Jason Snelling with 6:12 to play. The nine-play drive, which featured an eight-for-eight effort from Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, made it 31-17.

But the Rams went down swinging. They scored on their third consecutive possession to make it 31-24 as Bradford and Austin teamed up on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 2:09 to play.

But on a third-and-one from the Atlanta 29, Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan hit Jason Snelling with a pass out of the backfield for a first down to secure the win.

 

COMEBACK EFFORT BEGINS

After watching Johnny Hekker of the Rams and Atlanta's Matt Boscher trade punts through much of the third quarter, the Rams put together their best drive of the day to cut the Atlanta lead to 24-10 with 1:30 to play.

The drive, which featured 20-yard passes to Chris Givens and Austin Pettis and a 17-yarder to Lance Kendricks was capped when Sam Bradford rolled to his right and fired a 6-yard scoring pass to rookie Tavon Austin at the front corner of the end zone.

It was the first career touchdown for Austin, who made a nice diving catch for the score. The Rams traded up to select the West Virginia product with the eighth pick of last April's draft.

After a strong defensive stand by the Rams at the end of the quarter, Bosher closed out the period with a 63-yard punt that rolled dead at the St. Louis 25.

HALFTIME UPDATE

After building a 21-0 lead, the Atlanta Falcons went to halftime with a 24-3 advantage.

The Rams got on the scoreboard with 6:29 to play in the first half as Greg Zuerlein booted a 29-yard field goal after a penalty helped stall a promising St. Louis drive.

The key play of the drive was a 33-yard pass from Sam Bradford to Chris Givens.

On the drive, right tackle Rodger Saffold appeared to injure his left leg and went to the locker room. Joe Barksdale stepped in.

The Falcons put together another solid drive to wrap up the half, stretching their lead to 24-3 on a 38-yard field goal from Matt Bryant with nine seconds to play.

The Falcons have countered the Rams defensive line by using a lot quick drops and short passes. On defense, Atlanta has shown the Rams a number of different looks and have been able to disrupt the St. Louis attack.

Some notable halftime stats: Ryan completed 19 of 26 passes for 237 yards and pair of touchdowns while Jones had six receptions for 113 yards, including the 81-yard TD.

Bradford completed 12 of 21 passes for 124 yards and an interception.

 

 FALCONS RACE TO 21-0 lead

The Falcons struck early and late in the first quarter, building a 14-0 lead on a pair of Matt Ryan touchdown passes.

Atlanta opened the game with an 11-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 8-yard scoring pass from Ryan to former Ram Steven Jackson. It was the first Falcon touchdown for Jackson, who scored 65 in nine seasons with St. Louis.

On the play, Jackson took a short pass on the right side and powered his play past Rams rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree to reach the end zone. It was the final play of the quarter for Jackson, who left with an injured thigh; his return is questionable.

The Falcons, coming off an opening-week loss in New Orleans, struck again with just over a minute to play in the opening quarter when Janoris Jenkins bit on a fake that allowed Julio Jones to get behind him. Jones then high-stepped away as Jenkins dove at his feet and raced the rest of the way for an 81-yard touchdown.

It is the longest touchdown reception of Jones' career.

The Rams were limited to just one first down in the opening quarter, starting drives at their 8, 9 and 20-yard line.

Rams second-year safety Matt Daniels, who missed a good part of last season after suffering an ACL injury, was carted off after suffering a right leg injury on a kickoff return.

The Rams' deficit stretched to 21-0 early in the second quarter when a Sam Bradford pass went off the hands of Daryl Richardson to Osi Umenyiora, who returned it 68 yards for a third Falcon score.

CHRIS LONG SUITS UP  

Defensive end Chris Long, who sat out Friday’s practice with a hip injury and was listed as questionable, will suit up for the Rams today in the Georgia Dome.

Meanwhile, fifth-round draft pick Zac Stacy _ who was the team’s No. 2 running back last week against Arizona _ will not even suit up Sunday against the Falcons. Stacy, the rookie from Vanderbilt, was among the team’s inactives. Isaiah Pead, who returns from a one-week NFL suspension, will be the Rams’ No. 2 running back and could see a lot of work if starter Daryl Richardson’s ankle gives him problems.

Other Rams inactives were: S Darian Stewart (thigh), CB Quinton Pointer (thigh), OG Shelley Smith, G/C Barrett Jones, OG Brandon Washington, and DE Gerald Rivers. With three offensive linemen sitting Sunday, the Rams will have only two backups in uniform to fill in if there are any line injuries: OT Joe Barksdale and C/G Tim Barnes, the University of Missouri product.

For Atlanta, all six players that were listed as questionable Friday will suit up today. That list includes WRs Julio Jones (knee) and Roddy White (ankle), as well as starting left tackle Sam Baker (knee). CB Asante Samuel, who didn’t play last week against New Orleans because of a thigh injury, will suit up today.

Follow Jim Thomas on twitter @jthom1

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